• October 25, 2023

Remembering a Seasoned S/Leonean Diplomat: Eric Gamanga

Remembering a Seasoned S/Leonean Diplomat: Eric Gamanga
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By Alhaji MB Jalloh

It is with immense sorrow and deep sense of sadness that I learnt about the demise of a seasoned Sierra Leonean diplomat.

Eric Bobson Gamanga (EBG) died at the 34 Military Hospital, Wilberforce, on Sunday, 22nd October, 2023.

Mr. Eric B. Gamanga was born at Boajibu, Simbaru Chiefdom, Kenema District, Eastern Sierra Leone to Chief Jobo Gamanga, the younger brother of the late Paramount Chief Nuru Kenewa Gamanga of Simbaru Chiefdom.

He grew up in Kenema where he received his early education at the SDA Primary School before proceeding to the Holy Trinity Secondary School.

Upon graduation from Fourah Bay College with an honours degree in History in the mid 80’s, EBG started his career as a Lecturer at the Bunumbu Teachers College, Bunumbu, Kailahun District before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in 1995.

Being the devoted Foreign Service officer he was, Eric served in various capacities rising through the ranks from Assistant Secretary to becoming Permanent Secretary.

During his 25 years in the Ministry, he worked at the Directorates of Protocol, Administration and Finance, EcoTech and Fellowships, Asia and Middle East and later served as Director of the Africa Directorate.

At our Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassies, he served as First Secretary and Counsellor/Head of Chancery respectively.

It’s worthy to note that, he was posted twice to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and ended his second tour of duty in the Kingdom in December 2012.

In 2013, he was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security where he served as Deputy Secretary for about one year.

In 2014, he returned to the Foreign Ministry and shortly after his return, he was posted to the UAE where he served as the first Head of Chancery upon the establishment of the mission – a mission he served for two years and asked to be recalled to headquarters for administrative reasons.

Before his retirement, he was posted to take up an appointment as Secretary to the Justice Biobele Commission of Inquiry in 2018.
Unfortunately, he fell ill in the morning of the very day he was to report for duty. From there, he never worked again as he went on retirement in 2021.

Talking about the late Mr. EB Gamanga, one is obliged to highlight certain key and salient aspects of this exceptional and well-rounded personality.

Gamanga, the Person:
In my life, I have encountered a multitude of people of various characteristics, positive and otherwise, but the like of Mr. Gamanga is rare to come by in terms of humanity, humility, and empathy.

Dealing and interacting with him, one would feel that the heart of this gentleman is made of some extraordinary gem alien to that which we know in our today’s world. He was so friendly and helpful to everyone. He was so kind and tender-hearted to the highest degree.

Gamanga the Diplomat: As a former colleague of the late brother at the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I was privileged to work side by side by this exceptionally erudite and high seasoned diplomat from whose fountain of knowledge of diplomacy and expertise I learned a lot.

I travelled extensively with him in and out of Saudi Arabia. He loved to travel to Makkah to perform Umrah (Minor Hajj) and we performed Hajj twice together in 2011 and 2012.

When it comes to applying diplomatic policy and counseling, late Alhaji Gamanga comes second to none. He was very meticulous with dispensation of his assigned duties, and, what’s more, he was there ready and willing to render a helping hand to any Embassy staff that was in need of assistance. His concern about the image of the Embassy to the host country was paramount and uncompromising.

Gamanga the Honest: Unlike some public servants who would misappropriate state funds by one way or another, late Gamanga was the most honest and cleanliest diplomat I have ever come across throughout my sojourn with him.

Here was a man who would ensure that unused funds by the Hajj Committee get returned to Government when he represented the Embassy in the Hajj Committee in 2010 – 2012. Suffice to say that he was depicted by the Sierra Leone Embassy in Riyadh as the Honest Diplomat.
He would invariably abstain from eating a penny that was not meant for him.

Gamanga the Muslim: When it comes to performing his religious duties and obligations, he was one of the most devoted I have come across. He was prayerful and committed to performing the five daily prayers on time and in a congregation. He was a humble and pious person; one who was profoundly conscious of the vanity of the world we live in.

He was an extraordinary human being who dedicated his entire life to serving his country and humanity at large. Alhaji Gamanga will be remembered as one of the country’s finest diplomats, a patriot, harmless, friendly, hardworking, sincere, honest, respectful, humble, caring and selfless public servant committed to building a prosperous Sierra Leone.

He was a bridge builder with excellent networking and he had all the qualities that one looks for in a quintessential diplomat and public servant. Mr. Gamanaga’s legacy in nation-building and advancement of Sierra Leone diplomacy and foreign policy will continue to be cherished.

Sierra Leone has indeed lost an illustrious son, a savvy diplomat and a consummate administrator of high moral standing and a true patriot who represented his country very well as a public servant – both at home and abroad.

Mr. Gamannga lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation and left behind indelible footprints in all the places he worked.

He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and colleagues around the world for his kindness, generosity and all that he represented.

I wish Sierra Leone would have many of late Gamanga’s high caliber and moral standing in the Civil Service and in the cycle of governance, for the legacy he has left is worth emulating.

He is survived by three children; Fatima, Mohamed and Aminata.

May Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him Al Jannatul Firdous. Aameen.

Until then, adieu, EBG.

The author is Sierra Leone’s former Information Attaché to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States

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